Hopes high for Rugby to lead Portas’s pack

Mary Queen of Shops visited Rugby today (Wednesday), where she spoke with local business owners.
Mary Queen of Shops visited Rugby today (Wednesday), where she spoke with local business owners.

RUGBY shops will get more money if a bid to breathe new life into the town centre is successful.

A team of businesses and council representatives has applied for Rugby to be named as one of a handful towns picked to pilot schemes to secure the future of the high street.

Rugby Borough Council has confirmed it is making an application to secure ‘Portas Pilot’ status, on behalf of the ‘Town Team’.

If successful, the town would get cash from a £1 million pot set up to help towns test a number of schemes put forward by television’s self-styled ‘Queen of Shops’, Mary Portas.

Ian Davis, executive director of Rugby Borough Council, revealed the town team was already running a scheme to help new retailers get up and running which a successful bid could kick-start.

He said: “If we can get this funding, it will allow us to offer a complete package to new independent retailers.

“We already offer a Retail Startup Scheme made up of rent discounts, and legal and accountancy advice, but with the extra cash provided by the Portas Pilot status we would be able to add low-cost loans to help retailers with their startup costs.”

“With Mary Portas involved as well, it’s an extremely attractive package.”

Robin Richter, chairman of town centre management firm Rugby First, said: “The beauty of this scheme is that, if we can get it to work here, it will work anywhere in the country. It’s really important that a pilot project is capable of getting up and running very quickly, and that’s what we’ve got here with the Retail Startup Scheme.”